November 14, 2012

2012 Adoption Blogger Interview Project

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012
Welcome to my second-favorite day in November! (Thanksgiving wins that battle.)

In a nutshell, for those who clicked through to this post from elsewhere on the vast internet, the Adoption Blogger Interview Project pairs up bloggers for personal, indidualized interviews. It started two years ago with a group of open adoption bloggers and has grown to involve over 100 bloggers from a variety of adoption experiences.

The writers below spent the last few weeks poring over one another's blogs and coming up with interview questions for each other. Bloggers will be putting up their posts throughout the day, so check back if a link doesn't seem to work yet. I encourage you to leave a comment at each interview you visit, even if just to say thanks for the time they put in to making this project happen.

And now, in no particular order, here are the participants in the 2012 Adoption Blogger Interview Project:

Enjoy! May you learn new things about the bloggers you already know and discover some new favorite reads.

November 06, 2012

Saying It Aloud

One of my children did some occupational therapy this summer, which meant I spent quite awhile sitting in the therapy room examining the odd assortment of posters and notices hanging on the walls. One that I found myself coming back to again and again was a (rather poorly) photocopied list that hung directly across from the bank of chairs. Someone had tried to add some color by going over the typed words with a set of markers, nearly obscuring the text, but I could still just make it out.

"Six critical life messages that every child needs to hear every day,"* read the heading.

It went on:
  • I believe in you
  • I trust you
  • I know you can handle this
  • You are listened to
  • You are cared for
  • You are very important to me
Admittedly, my first vague thought was that all those things were true, so my children probably knew them from my actions. But as the list stared me down each week, I started wondering how often, if ever, I said each of these statements so plainly.  Especially given my personality, which tends to be the sort that believes if you've said something to someone once, there is no need to repeat it again and again.

Knowing I could never recall all six without practice, I decided to pick one to try saying deliberately for a time as a (decidedly non-scientific) experiment. The one that spoke to me the most was "I know you can handle this," especially thinking about Mari. My dear Mari is so capable, but she doesn't believe it yet about herself. She is often hesitant, frequently holding back even when it is an activity she would enjoy. She rarely pushes herself outside of her small comfort zone, physically or emotionally. After Trey arrived, her reluctance to try new experiences combined with a very normal preschooler reaction to having a new sibling and snowballed into an insistence that she couldn't do even the simplest things for herself (like putting on her shoes). Earlier this year it had grown to near-constant cries of, "I can't do it!" and "Help me!"

When moments came up in the day when I'd normally expect her to start resisting, like dropping her off at preschool or asking her to do a task, I'd look her in the eyes and say confidently, "I know you can handle this." I said it a lot. So many times in a day that it started to feel ridiculous.

But it wasn't ridiculous to Mari. Right from the start I noticed that she seemed to move through the "I can't do it" wails a little bit faster. And one sunny afternoon she dangled from the monkey bars in our backyard--a section of the play structure that usually drove her to tears and pleas for rescue--and called out, "Mama! Look at me! Look at me, Mama!" When I told her that I saw her, she shared with an enormous grin, "I can do so many things!"

It it hard to believe something about yourself if you never hear it said aloud.

I've posted these six messages on my office wall behind my desk, where I see them as I work. I'm hoping all six will become a regular part of language I use with the children, that these will become the messages they hear now from me and from their own inner voices in the future.

*A footnote said the list came from
Kids Are Worth It! : Giving Your Child The Gift Of Inner Discipline by Barbara Coloroso.

November 01, 2012

Countdown to Interview Day: 13

We had over 100 bloggers register for this year's Adoption Blogger Interview Project! You can see the list here. There have been a couple of hiccups, which is to be expected when trying to virtually overlap this many strangers. But overall it seems like a really interesting, varied group of writers with some intriguing random pairings.

Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word online. It was a treat for me to read the different posts and blurbs of people describing the project, especially people who talked about their experiences participating in previous years. The winner of the Amazon gift card for helping to publicize is Susan from Susan and Mitch (hope to) adopt!

The interviews show up on November 14--less than two weeks now to wait...

October 09, 2012

The 2012 Adoption Blogger Interview Project is Here!

It's back! The Adoption Blogger Interview Project, that is. Mark your calendars for November 14.

We had over 100 participants last year, each with their own unique and thoughtful interview post. I loved that in the middle of the noise of National Adoption Month we took the time to listen to each other, share our own stories, and make connections outside of our usual internet haunts.

The Interview Project is for any adoption blogger--not just open adoption bloggers, not just domestic adoption bloggers, definitely not just adoptive parents. If you are a blogger who (1) writes at least occasionally about adoption, (2) is interested in meeting a fellow writer with different views and experiences, and (3) wants to extend a welcome into your own online space, this interview project is for you.

The details, registration form, and button codes are here on this page. Registration closes on Thursday, October 18. You'll be paired with another blogger, read one another's blogs, and do an online interview of each other. On last year's feedback form a lot of people mentioned wanting more time to swap questions, so this year we have about three weeks to get to know our interview partners and prepare our posts for November 14.

Pairing is random, but like last year you'll be able to make special requests when you register and I'll do my best to accommodate them. For example, you might be a first parent blogger who prefers to be paired with another first parent. I hope that the option to limit the randomness helps make this a less risky undertaking for anyone who might be wary of participating.

Please help spread the word, especially among bloggers who aren't in my usual domestic adoption/open adoption circles. To encourage everyone to talk this up, I'm giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to someone who shares the link to this post or the interview project page on social media. To enter, leave a comment on this post with a link to the tweet/blog post/forum post/Facebook mention/Pinterest pin/etc. telling people to the project. Leave as many comments as you'd like, as long as each one links to a different mention. Entries close on October 18 when the registration period ends; I'll choose a comment at random by October 23. (Further necessary but boring giveaway blather here.)

Don't forget to register by October 18. I hope you will all join in!

September 04, 2012

Incorporating Blogs into Adoption Counseling

I'm excited to share about a continuing education workshop for Pacific Northwest therapists, social workers, and counselors that I am lucky enough to be coordinating with my friend Meg Jeske, a Portland-area therapist with a particular focus on grief/loss, parenting, adoption, gender, and sexuality.

Earlier this year, Meg approached me with the brilliant idea of developing a workshop in which clinicians could learn more about using blogs as a resource for themselves and their clients around open adoption issues. Our hope is that it will be a very collaborative, discussion-based time and I am looking forward to seeing what comes of it.

The one-day workshop will be held down at the Lewis and Clark Graduate Campus in Portland on September 22. The description:
Introduction to Open Adoption: First Person Accounts

What is open adoption? How does it work? Is it confusing to the participants? Is it sustainable? This workshop will offer an introduction to open adoption and adoption ethics.

Open adoption has been portrayed, for better or worse, in popular media in movies like Juno and television shows such as Parenthood, Glee and Modern Family.

Another way to explore the topic of open adoption is through written accounts of people whose lives include open adoption. The blogosphere holds a wealth of information about personal experiences from people involved in adoption from many perspectives: as people facing an unplanned pregnancy and considering adoption, as first parents, adoptive parents, adoptees, and adoption professionals.

As counselors and therapists, we will all work with clients who are affected by adoption in some way. As clinicians, there are many points at which having awareness about open adoption will be useful. One is when working with an individual or couple considering placing a child for adoption. Another is when an open adoption already exists and the families involved encounter challenges with their emotions about adoption.

Participants in this day-long workshop will have an opportunity to imagine themselves inhabiting a position within the adoption constellation and to explore what questions or issues are important to them from that vantage point. Using the Open Adoption Bloggers website as home base, we will examine the lived (and blogged) experience of people in open adoptions in their own words.

Based on participant needs and interests, specific issues that arise in open adoption will also be addressed; for instance transracial adoption, same sex partner adoption, single parent adoption, adoption ethics, desires for different levels or types of openness within open adoptions, open adoption and social media, and post-placement grief.
If you're a counselor or student needing some continuing ed hours, we hope you'll check it out! For more information or to register, visit the Lewis and Clark website. The early registration discount ends on September 7.

June 24, 2012

It Shouldn't Have Been So Hard

It shouldn't have been so hard. Not really.

It was a matter of the smallest pen stroke, circling one word on a form. All I needed to do was circle "Yes". But I hesitated, moved to other questions, came back to that blank row and hovered still.

At well-child check ups at our pediatrician's office, they hand you a sheet of Yes/No questions to answer while you wait to see the doctor, to avoid having the nurses waste their time repeating the same list of questions of everyone who comes in, I suppose. The "correct" answers are always the second choice, the word on the right. If you wanted to you blow off the form, you could just work your way straight down the column, circling without even reading.
  • Does the baby ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back row of the car at all times? No/Yes
  • Do you feed the baby juice, soda, or anything other than breastmilk or formula with iron? Yes/No
  • Does anyone smoke around the baby? Yes/No
Or the one that had me caught:
  • Have you felt unusually sad or anxious since the baby's arrival? Yes/No
I knew I needed to say "Yes", to hopefully set the process of seeking medical help in motion. I've had times in my life when I've felt blue or adrift or overwhelmed. I've had times I knew that talking to a counselor would help give me some new perspective to help me through a stuck place. This time was different. I knew that something had shifted in my brain and wasn't snapping back into place.

And, yet. As the weeks went by and I slid deeper into the pit, something kept me from seeking out the help the rational part of my brain knew I needed. I was a living checklist of depression symptoms. But I was scared of being dismissed or ridiculed and I felt so fragile, so breakable that even the thought of that possibly happening in a doctor's office was enough to make me want to pretend everything was fine. Depression alone isn't taken seriously all too often, much less post-partum depression, much much less adoption-related depression. After all, I hadn't given birth. I hadn't had to say goodbye to a child. I had nothing happen most people would label a crisis. I was supposed to be the happy, fulfilled one in this adoption equation, rejoicing over the newest family member who so many waiting adoptive parents would hypothetically have been thrilled to have in my place.

I leaned against the wall in the waiting room and looked at the baby sleeping in his sling and was overwhelmed by despair. Things were bad, and only getting worse. Scared enough, I finally drew a small circle.

After running through the usual routine with the baby, the pediatrician turned to me. "Now," he said, tapping his finger on the clipboard over that circled word, that glaring mark in the "wrong answer" column. I stiffened. "This is what concerns me most," he said.

He asked some kind and probing questions, then broke about a dozen HMO rules to get me an appointment for the next week with a physician who was similarly nothing less than compassionate and encouraging. I left her office not with hope exactly--I was too far in the pit at that point to scrabble together anything resembling real hope--but with the feeling that something had just happened other than the sadness and anger and anxiety that had become my constant companions.

So that's where things are. I'm trying medication, which has been a new and strange (and slow) experience. And I am finally feeling like things may be getting better. I am so very ready to return back to this life I love so much, to be someone who creates and serves and nurtures again instead of just someone who exists and needs.

Thank you for waiting for me, those of you who are reading this. I am sorry that I have been gone so long.

May 08, 2012

What I Want to Say to You on Mother's Day

This post is becoming something of an annual tradition here at the blog; I cannot think of anything I want to say more as May comes around this each year. May has not been an easy month for me for many years now.

I mostly feel the same about Mother's Day as I do about Valentine's Day. I enjoy the private celebrations letting the people I love know how valued they are. I dislike the shallow, frequently sexist, commercialized public commotion that typically only serves to make those on the "outside" feel bad. My time on the outside looking in on those holidays was recent enough that I well remember how awful it can be.

If only there were a way to celebrate our relationships without also dredging up people's regrets, losses or unfulfilled dreams. If you're still waiting and hoping and yearning; if you're not the one raising your child; if you have lost a child or a pregnancy; if the day reminds you of a broken relationship or someone you're missing, I wish for you peace in the present and hope for the future. You are no less valuable, no less worthy of respect and admiration than the people who will be noticed on Sunday. Happy Mother's Day to each of you.

Read what other open adoption bloggers would like to say to you on this Mother's Day at the Open Adoption Bloggers roundtable

May 07, 2012

Another Day

Um. Hello, there. Anyone home?

I am sorry to disappear on you like I have, sorry for the unanswered emails and glaring lack of response around the interwebs.

I think about writing every day, with a mixture of guilt and longing. Every day I can't quite bring myself to do it. I miss you all.

The truth is this: I am struggling with some depression right now in the weeks following baby Trey's* arrival. I don't know why that is so hard to admit, but there it is.

Thank you for your patience. I am doing the best I can, every day.

April 19, 2012

Review: The Book of Jonas

Time for another BlogHer Book Club review! We read The Book of Jonas, the debut novel of Stephen Dau.

The Book of Jonas gives us glimpses into three very different, but connected, lives. Jonas (originally Younis), is a Muslim teen refugee from a Middle Eastern country left unnamed in the book. After his family and village are destroyed by a misguided United States military operation, he runs away from the trauma both physically and emotionally as he tries to adjust to life in the U.S. Christopher is an American solider who was part of the raid that killed Jonas's family, and who Jonas says saved his life. Although he's been missing ever since that night, we see his inner wrestling through his journal. Finally, there is Rose, Christopher's mother, who channels her despair over not knowing what has become of her son into activism, in part to avoid having to come to terms with her own loss.

You could say it is a story about the effects of war and the how people have to live with choices they're forced to make, or about the different ways people struggle after devastating events. But ultimately I think it is a book about people searching for release, whether that release is absolution from guilt or from the pain of not having answers. The sections of the book (Processional/Remembrance/Communion/Confession/Atonement/Benediction/Recessional) bring to mind a gathered community of faith. That sense of gathering and the way the characters' stories interconnect suggest that the release they all seek cannot come in isolation, but only as they reach out and are open to receive.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my BlogHer Book Club participation. All opinions expressed are my own.

April 17, 2012

Mother Letters

A long time ago--in 2007, before Mari, even!--I wrote a letter to a woman I've never met. A husband was collecting letters about motherhood as a Christmas present for his wife, who was about to deliver their fourth child. So I wrote something sweet and encouraging one night and sent it off to him. It was just one of those nice things you do for people on the internet. (ETA: It turns out they received over 600 letters. I had no idea it was so many!)

It turns out that the two of them went on to put some of the best letters and artwork into an e-book that was released today. The e-book is called Mother Letters and my letter is in it. I get a buck or so if you buy it from one of these two links: either for the Kindle or in PDF. I haven't seen it yet--I actually don't even remember what I wrote and I'm hoping it's not too embarassing--but I wanted to let you all know!

April 13, 2012

OAB Happenings This Week

One of the nice things about the new Open Adoption Bloggers blog is the chance to highlight guest bloggers. The first fabulous guest post was by adoptive mom Rachel from White Sugar Brown Sugar, who offered seven tips for respecting online privacy in open adoption. Not everyone agreed with the tips, though--you might want to check out the post and comments and add your own thoughts.

The 36th Open Adoption Roundtable was also posted this week. The prompt was about open adoption agreements and the effects they (or their absence) have had on bloggers' relationships. Some interesting, and varying, responses have come in so far.

April 11, 2012

Who Deserves to Be Heard

The annual Circle of Moms page view grab competition for Top Adoption and Foster Care Mom Blogs has started up. I was nominated (thank you to whoever honored me that way), but don't worry, I won't be begging for your daily votes again this year. As fun as it was to see my name on the list in 2011, there were no real benefits as far as traffic over the year, so I wasn't going to bother writing about the game in 2012.

Then censorship reared its ugly head. Cassi is a first mother who writes about reform, ethics, and her personal experience at Adoption Truth. Her blog was in the competition and doing well. Until, without warning, it was removed from the voting list by Circle of Moms. In an email, the contest organizers told her they "had to remove [her] blog from the Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms competition. As described on the contest page, the Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms contest is open to 'mom bloggers who write about adoption or foster parenting in a supportive, positive way.'"

I've lurked on Cassi's blog for years. Her experience wasn't positive and she writes from that perspective. Why would anyone expect her to be "supportive" of adoption as it currently stands? She advocates for reform, cautions against the ethical pitfalls in domestic adoption, and writes frankly about how adoption affected her and her adult son. (As do others in the competition, but hers alone was singled out for removal.) Is her voice somehow not needed in the larger conversation about adoption because it is not "positive"?

I'd argue that voices like Cassi's are the most important, in many regards. Speaking for myself, they give me a view of adoption I do not get anywhere else--not in the mainstream media, not in the most popular adoption books, not in most of the training materials I've been given. It is the people who vulnerably and honestly share about the complexities of adoption--those often labeled "anti-adoption" or "negative--who have most influenced my views of adoption.  More than just my views--they have influenced my practice of adoption, my choices as an adoptive parent, my relationships with my children. All for the better. And they are effecting change on a larger scale in terms of adoptee rights and the ethical adoption practices, too.

This is also a clear example of adoptive parent privilege at work (more on how I understand my privilege as both an adoptive parent and a non-adopted person here and here). If I, as an adoptive parent, had a difficult experience--if, say, one of my children's moms had decided to parent after all after initially placing her child with us or if I were struggling in a relationship with a first family member--and wrote about how awful I felt about adoption in that moment, I highly doubt I'd be labeled as "not positive and supportive" of adoption. In fact, I'd probably be given a lot of encouragement. If I support adoptees' birth certificate access or other reforms, I'm not dismissed.

I'm not saying adoptive parents should be silenced. Not at all. But we need to realize that often we are recognized and heard at the expense of others. First parents and adoptees/foster care alumni are held to a different standard--they are asked to do the impossible and somehow prove that they deserve to be listened to before certain people will listen to them. Because of the privilege at our backs, I think we as adoptive parents have an obligation to work to leave space for and draw attention to first parent and adoptee voices, especially those who expose adoption's complexities and dangers.

So, if you are interested, go to vote at Circle of Moms this year. You can vote once each day. But as you click I encourage to think about how you can draw attention to the voices who have to fight hardest to be heard.

April 10, 2012

Watch Out for Flying Pigs

The new, stand alone Open Adoption Bloggers site is up and running! I probably shouldn't admit this, but part of me thought it impossible that I would ever actually pull this off.

But it's up! It involved DNS codes and name servers and about 10,000 links that I still need to go through and update. But it is there. Please do go check it out. I sincerely welcome your feedback. If you see anything buggy or confusing, please let me know.

I want to give an enormous public thank you to Racilous from Adoption in the City. She put in a ton of time offering suggestions and helping me see the forest and not just the trees. She even made the header image so that it would match our badges.

The roundtables, "meet the blogger" interviews, and other projects will be posted there now.  In fact, the first roundtable is live today, asking folks to write about open adoption agreements. So please visit and subscribe!

April 08, 2012

Eleven Years

(This is a partial repost from five years ago. Somehow it seemed just right for this year, too.)

Love commits to the journey despite not knowing what lies ahead.

Love commits to the unknown ones who will join you along the way.

Love commits to the person you are and to the person you are becoming.

Happy eleventh anniversary, Todd. Parts of this journey have been nothing like what I expected, others have been exactly as I imagined. But I wouldn't trade it for anything.

April 05, 2012

My Bloggy Baby

Do you know how excited I am about this?

So stinkin' excited.

Before the actual baby showed up unexpectedly, this was my baby of the moment. The Open Adoption Bloggers projects were feeling a bit squished into my blog and hard to navigate. I'm not a designer of any sort, so the look of it isn't anything to write home about. But look at the menu bar! Such lovely organization. Roundtables, blogroll, interviews, "best of" honorees--all a quick click away. I'm hoping to have it all up and running this weekend (fingers crossed, knock on wood, pinch of salt over the shoulder).

If you have an OAB button or link to the blogroll on your blog, one thing you can do to help is to make sure it links to and not The code looks something like this, depending on which button you have:
<a href="" title="Open Adoption Blogs"><img alt="Open Adoption Blogs" border="0" src="" title="Open Adoption Blogs" /></a>
Look at the bit marked in red and if it says or, please change it to Right now that still sends people to the blogroll page on my blog, but soon it will send people to the new site. If you need any help, please just let me know.

The other things moving OAB to its own site does is open up lots of opportunities to feature your writing. I have some great guest posts and book reviews lined up, and there is unlimited room for more. If you're interested in contributing to the site, let me know and I'll send you more details.

Wish me luck on getting this rolled out--I am not a techie!

April 01, 2012

New Open Adoption Bloggers - March 2012

The open adoption bloggers list grows every month and sometimes additions get lost among all the awesomeness. Hopefully these round-ups of the new blogs from the month before will help folks connect.

Here are the blogs added in March:


From Birthmom to Adoptive Mom: I am a birth mom and an adoptive mom sharing stories from my journey through adoption. I am currently in a very open adoption.

Petitexplosion: A birthmother and birthfather doing open adoption together, living through the process day by day, and trying to devote themselves to each other, before devoting their lives to a baby.


Adoptio: Building a Catholic family through open adoption.

Our Adoption Journey...and Life with Kate!: Our journey through domestic infant adoption, and now life with our daughter, Kate!  We share the good, the bad, and the ugly (but mostly good)!

MargaretAdopts: The blog explores our adventures as soon-to-be parents to a nine-year-old boy and describes our experiences with the adoption process. We've been committed to the idea of open adoption since the beginning, but now we'll find out what it's like to live out that decision on a day-to-day basis.


No Due Date: We're on a journey to grow our family through adoption. We invite you to share in our journey, and help us in the search to find an expecting mother who is considering adoption.

Susan & Mitch (hope to) adopt: We’re following our dream to become parents by adopting a baby girl or boy through open adoption. Our blog shares adventures, experiences, and thoughts along the way.

Two Mommies Trying to Adopt:  I am hoping that this blog will act as a support for my partner and me as we try to navigate the road toward adoption. I will blog about the journey that we are taking and the emotions that occur along the way.

March 30, 2012

Spoiler Alert

Part one, part two, part three

At some point during that emotionally charged time after the baby was born but before any steps had been made toward his eventual placement, I found myself standing with the social worker in a quiet hallway. Somehow we got onto the topic of those reality shows that follow expectant parents and prospective adoptive parents around from pre-birth matches to placement.

"It's hard to think of a worse time to have cameras around," I commented.

"Oh, I know. Our agency has gotten called more than once trying to get us to participate in those shows," she said, the disdain in her voice making her opinion clear.

I've said my piece about those shows before, but one of the many things about them that sets me to grinding my teeth in rage--and among the things the social worker and I talked about that day--is their framing of relinquishment/placement as the conclusion of a story. In the interest of shoehorning real-life events into a dramatic storyline, the show-makers nearly always present it as a conflict of, "Will the birthmother go through with it? Will the adoptive parents get that baby they so deserve?". (Biased, unethical language intended there.) The placement, then, serves as their tidy, happy ending.

There are so many damaging ripples from shows telling the story that way, over and over. (Imagine for a moment if instead the happy ending were the new mom finding a way to parent after all.) But the least of them is simply that it is not an open adoption. That is the tip of the iceberg, the starting point for a lifetime of exploring, working on, experiencing the richness and challenge, grief and joy of openness in adoption. Don't show me a made-for-tv storyline culled from a several weeks of a pre-birth match and placement and tell me that is an "adoption story". You haven't shown me the story of an adoption. You've only shown me the events leading up to the very start of an adoption, one in which relationships will grow and change, and in which the most important person--the adoptee--has yet to gain a voice and active role.

In order to keep this story from falling into that same trap, allow me to spoil the ending-that-is-not-really-an-ending for you before continuing on. Meet our newest son, born to Shamika and Derrick. He turned two weeks old yesterday. This isn't just a story about how our family became his. It's the first chapter of a lifetime-long tale that is only just beginning.

March 26, 2012

Turning Point

Part one, part two

My conversation with the agency social worker was on a Friday. She asked us to write a short letter introducing our family and our values around openness and send it to her by Monday, when she'd be meeting next with the couple.

Over the weekend I stole away to our bedroom for a few hours to write the letter and put together some photos of our family more recent than the ones the agency had on file. This is a strange exercise even under the usual circumstances, trying to capture honestly in one page what is unique and true about your family without "selling" or veering into cliche, all to an unknown reader. Writing it in one day instead of mulling over every word for weeks made it all more more weird.

I emailed the pictures and letter to the agency on Sunday evening and settled in for the expected few days' wait to hear the couple's decision. Monday went by. And Tuesday. And Wednesday. The longer the week went on the more swiftly I drifted from being interested but still fairly aloof to being emotionally invested in the outcome, hoping that by some small chance we were the right family for this particular couple. By Friday I was in that ridiculous emotional place of trying to will the phone to ring ring please just ring already before the weekend started. I just wanted to know, one way or the other.

I thought a lot about this couple I didn't know, in impossibly hard circumstances, trying to make what I imagined must be a strange and difficult choice. I didn't begrudge them taking all the time they needed. But, oh, was I ever distracted over the weekend.

The next Monday, in the middle of a conference call for work, I saw the agency's phone number pop up on my cell phone. I debated letting it go to voice mail for a ring or two, until my overwhelming need to know made me excuse myself from the meeting.

After perfunctory pleasantries, the social worker got to the point. Through their different contacts, the agency had pulled together five potential adoptive families for the expectant parents to consider. Out of those five, they had decided they wanted to meet Todd and me.

They had picked us.

Part four

March 21, 2012

Bigger Still

Part one

It started with an email.

The agency we used for Mari's adoption was working with two local expectant parents who were considering adoption.  Because of some of the significant challenges in this couple's life, none of the families in the agency's pool were comfortable being shown to them. So the agency was taking the unusual (for them) step of reaching out to some of its old clients to see if they could gather some potential adoptive parents for them to consider.

I read the message right as I was heading out the door for a run, expecting to brush it off. Instead it stopped me in my tracks. Something about it felt...familiar, almost.

I chalked up the feeling to having not read the email closely enough. Surely there was some factor I'd missed that would make it absurd for us to even consider. But all through my run it wouldn't leave my mind. Once home, I thrust my iPod into Todd's hands, the email opened on the tiny screen. "Just read this," I said, with no preamble. "Then tell me what you think."

A few minutes later he looked up at me. "I think this is exactly why we do adoption," he said quietly.

That evening I wrote back to the social worker. "We're interested in talking to you more," I told her. Even with that noncommital wording I hesitated for a long time before clicking "send". We're just not the sort of people for whom things happen out of the blue. It must be foolish to think we might possibly meet this couple's needs, be part of this child's life.

The next day, hidden in a back bedroom of a friend's home while playgroup burbled through the rest of the house, I listened to the social worker tell me more about the expectant parents and the heartbreaking, frustrating circumstances into which their baby was being born. The challenges were big and any open adoption relationship would need a lot of support to be healthy. I understood, on some level, why it had felt like too much for those waiting parents already in the agency's pool. But, still, it felt familiar to me. Not scary. In many ways, it paralleled aspects of our family's existing adoptions. These were challenges we knew (or thought we knew).

Because of those parallels, the social worker thought we and the expectant parents would be a good fit for each other. If we agreed, we could quickly write up a new introduction letter that she'd give to the couple, along with our old profile materials they had on file from Mari's adoption. But we needed to move quickly and we needed to be sure--the couple had already selected one set of prospective adoptive parents only to have them become overwhelmed and decide they couldn't continue. She did not want to put them through that again.

This time I didn't hesitate.

Part three

March 16, 2012


Last year I was intrigued by the idea of choosing a single word for the year--something to set the tone, or be inspiration, capture what I thought the year might be about. It was something I had seen a number of other bloggers doing, an alternative to the usual laundry list of  New Year's resolutions. They are often inspriational, lovely word like BREATHE or CREATE.

I picked the word TRY for 2011. I kept it to myself, a private challenge to step outside my comfort zone a little as opportunities arose. Among other things it got me to my first blogging conference, BlogHer (so big! so many people!), and to the Open Adoption Symposium in Virginia, both places where online friendships cemented and grew into something even more wonderful in that offline context.

As 2012 approached, I wanted to choose a new word. I sat with the idea for a few days until one word kept coming to mind again and again.

It felt like the moment to think beyond my usual routines and ruts, to push myself further--even if just a little bit--in my job, my projects, my family life. Not necessarily to try something new, but something more. BIGGER carried this exciting sense of expansion it for me.

It started off a little practical:

We finally went out and bought the new (to us) bigger car we had been dithering about for months--nay, years. The minivan that would let us take the road trips and do the activities with the kids' friends we had been wanting to do. To buy it, we used the funds we had set aside for a possible third adoption. It was a step into embracing and loving our lives and our family right now, just as it is, putting to rest the wondering and worrying over adding to it.

I began working on some new ideas at my job. I started sketching out what it would take for our family to spend a year overseas when the kids are a little older. I let a local friend convince me to join her in a proposal for a continuing ed workshop for therapists about adoption--something way outside my comfort zone--because, BIGGER. I've been working until the wee hours on setting up Open Adoption Bloggers at its own site to let it expand beyond the confines of my blog. (Tell them how great it is, Racilous!)

It was all very invigorating and exciting.

And then BIGGER took a very interesting turn...

Part two

March 14, 2012

Open Adoption Roundtable #35: Grandparents

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points--please feel free to adapt or expand on them. 

Write a response at your blog--linking back here so your readers can browse other participating blogs--and share your post in the comments here. Using a previously published post is fine; I'd appreciate it if you'd add a link back to the roundtable. If you don't blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.

We've written about siblings in open adoptions twice before. Now we're going to look in the other generational direction: grandparents. While the legal processes of placing and adopting focus on the triad of first parents-child-adoptive parents, the reality is that adoption involves extended family, too. So this time we're offering up a nice, broad prompt to reflect on the influence of, relationships with, and experiences of grandparents in our open adoptions (whichever grandparents you choose).

Write about grandparents in open adoption.


Excerpts from the responses:

March 06, 2012

Meet Harriet of See Theo Run

Our latest interviewee in the open adoption blogger series is Harriet, author of See Theo Run. She describes her blog as her "space to muse and explore the intricacies of our open adoption and life as a mixed race family." I've appreciated the thoughtfulness of Harriet's writing and her ongoing efforts to understand what it means to be an adoptive parent in an open adoption. The photos of her adorable, rambunctious son certainly don't hurt, either! Read on to learn more about Harriet and her blog.

Tell us about yourself and your connection to open adoption.

How much time do you have? Ha ha. My husband Mark and I adopted our son, Theo, now two-and-a-half, at birth in an open adoption. We met his birthparents via an agency two months before he was born and have had an ongoing, in-person relationship ever since. We have met all sides of Theo’s birthfamily right up to grandparents. Our relationship has been both wonderful and emotionally challenging. On the upside, I feel privileged to know Theo’s biological family; I’ve gotten to know them as people as well as learning about their Jamaican heritage. On the downside, adoption has taken all of us to some dark places. Despite this, I would characterize our relationship as authentic and caring. I should add that we are a tri-cultural Canadian family: I’m white, my husband is Filipino, my son is Jamaican, and we live in multicultural Vancouver.

What has been the most unexpected or surprising aspect of open adoption so far?

March 02, 2012

Wherein My Daughter Bends the Universe to Her Will

Mari turned four years old last month. She has been very, very into baby dolls for quite awhile now, rarely leaving the house without one of her wee ones along with her.

Over the holidays, though, we went to a few parties where older girls had brought their new Amer.ican Girl dolls to show off. And suddenly Mari was utterly smitten with the idea of having a big kid doll. Not just any big kid doll. Oh, no--out of all the dolls we met in December, she wanted the Amer.ican Girl doll named Julie. I don't even think she understands the concept of brands, she just knew from the depths of her little three-foot tall self that this Julie would complete her life. (Julie was, I think not coincidentally, the first one of these dolls the older girls allowed Mari to hold. She imprinted on her like a baby duck in reverse.)

Now, there was no way on God's green Earth that I was buying her a Julie doll as a birthday present. My reasons were several.
  1. Marian is four years old.
  2. Her love affair with Julie would likely be over before the daffodils bloomed. 
  3. American Girl dolls cost approximately a bazillion dollars.
  4. Julie looks like this:
    With her straight blond hair and iconic whiteness, it's not exactly the doll I'd choose for Mari to fawn over during her formative years.
Some family members asked me what Mari wanted for her birthday, but I didn't bother to tell them about her Julie lust lest someone encourage her. But I heard about Julie several times a day, every day for weeks. "Is it my birthday? How many days until I get my Julie? Did you know I'm getting a Julie? Julie will be in a bag and I will play with her. I'm getting a Julie for my birthday, Mama. I love Julie." Julie, Julie, Julie.

"You're not going to get a Julie," I told her. Sympathetically but firmly.
"Did you know I'm getting a Julie for my birthday?" she answered. You have to give her points for being tenacious.

Several months ago I had snapped up a Kar.ito Kids Lulu doll at a ridiculous discount on Zulily. Anyone who has tried to find quality dolls not just with brown skin but also with tightly curled hair will appreciate how great Lulu is.

I'd been hanging on to it until she was older, but after seeing how excited Mari was about big kid dolls, it seemed like the right moment for Lulu. At the birthday dinner, with our extended family gathered around the table, Mari unwrapped the big box and saw Lulu's face peeking out. She gasped, then gave a little scream of joy. Lulu was brought out and celebrated and hugged. It was delightful.
Then my brother and sister-in-law handed her their present. Their big, boxy present.

I'm sure you see where this is going.

Oh, yes. JULIE. They gave her a freaking Julie.

They had no idea she wanted Julie. None. They could not tell you a thing about the Amer.ican Girl dolls' mystique or how much they cost or about the 1,000 different AG dolls there are available to buy. (Nor did they check with me before giving her such a big present--bad form!) No, they were mere pawns in Mari's successful attempt to bend the universe to her will.
My brother and his wife were visiting an out-of-state friend around New Year's and telling him about their niece who loved baby dolls. "I won this doll at work," he said, pulling a box out of a closet. "It's not a baby. Do you think she'd like it?" They said sure, he handed it over, and they left happy they didn't need to bother shopping for her birthday, not knowing they held Mari's little dream in their hands.

And that is how Mari got her Julie. And how poor Lulu was pushed out of the spotlight in record time. And how I started to worry what else Mari was wishing for.
PS As if to rub it in, Julie came with a little booklet titled, "How to care for your doll with straight hair."

March 01, 2012

New OAB Blogs - February 2012

The open adoption blogs list grows every month and sometimes additions get lost among all the awesomeness. Hopefully these monthly round-ups of the new blogs from the month will help folks connect.

Here are the blogs added in February:

Open Adoption4ALL: Before I was a wife and mother, I was a BIRTH MOTHER, first. I have always tried to be open with my story, in the hopes that it might help to generate a more comfortable dialogue about OPEN ADOPTION in every American household. Without the conversation, there can be no understanding.


Living Our Miracle: By the grace of God, we are living our miracle with the blessing of our son through embryo adoption. We are navigating the complexities of an open donor relationship with divorced donors who are parents to triplets.


The Ranunculus Adventures: One writer's blog about life - the good, the bad, the awkward. Topics include everything from adoption to pop culture, writing to wedding flowers, recipes to faith, and stories to make you laugh and cry. And maybe pee your pants a little.

February 09, 2012

Review: The Weird Sisters

The latest BlogHer Book Club installment is the debut novel The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. Three sisters, who honestly don't really like each other all that much, return to their childhood home in a small college town when their mother is diagnosed with cancer. The part of the blurb that drew me in? The family--with its Shakespeare-professor father--are all voracious readers.

It is a fluffy book, in that everything-turns-out-right-in-the-end way, but the good sort of fluff: easygoing, engaging, and not too frivolous. The three sisters play awfully neatly into the birth order stereotypes of oldest-responsible/middle-lost/youngest-irresponsible, but that's kind of the point of the story. They need to see the ways they have taken on those roles without thinking and to realize they can grow beyond them.

It's told collectively by the three sisters. The first person plural narration ("We came home because we were failures") took several pages to get used to, but I liked the effect it had of making the family itself a character in its own right in a way. Because isn't that true of our families, especially our families of origin? They somehow become take on a realness in our minds that is more than just the collection of individuals; the family as an entity has a life of its own. I can think of my mother, my father, my brother as separate people, but there is also the influence and pull of Our Family, its shared quirks and flaws and memories.

There was also one bit at the end that stuck with me, "There are times in our lives when we have to realize our past is precisely what it is, and we cannot change it. But we can change the story we tell ourselves about it, and by doing that, we can change the future." It made me think of what many of us do when we write, when we blog. There is a way I think we are sometimes working to wrestle our lives into stories we can not just live with but embrace. That has, at least, been true for me.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this review by BlogHer but the opinions expressed are my own.

February 08, 2012

Around the Internet

A few bits from around the internet:

Item #1:
Open adoption blogger Lori is working on a book about open adoption parenting and looking for stories from the community to include. Through February 10, she is collecting insights or cautions about problems in open adoption relationships, especially around boundaries, communication, and contact agreements. If you have an anecdote from your personal experience to share, use this form.

Item #2:
I wanted to point you to a powerful post on Offbeat Mama about identity and open adoption from a prospective adoptive parent thinking about openness from his perspective as a transgender man:
We can't help our histories — they are what they are. But often, the world comes along to tell us who we are because of those histories. When that happens, I will hold my child's hand and yell back at the world. Our given names, our taken names, our birth certificates are simply pieces of our stories. The whole story is so much more. I am not just a man who transitioned genders. I bake cakes, I climb mountains, I sewed my wife's wedding dress, I work towards providing equal access to higher education for all students. And, if given the chance, I will parent a child. 
That child will be so much more than an adoptee. She will dance or sing, she will love math or books, she will play the trumpet or the drums, she will have her mother's passion, her father's relentlessness, her first family's strength. She will always know where she came from, where she is headed, her whole self. From the moment she enters my life, I will honor, love, and protect that self with my entire being.
Item #3:
I also loved "Not on the Menu" by Jay over at Two Women Blogging as she parents her adopted daughter through some big emotions and admits that she, at times, asks herself if open adoption is worth it.
Wouldn't it be easier if we didn't have to deal with this? Wouldn't it be simpler if we said "we are your parents" and left it at that? Isn't this all just more confusion?
She comes to the same conclusion I've told myself time after time when things have gotten hard.

Item #4:
If you live in Southern California and like thinking about the cultural, political, and sociological meanings of adoption, this conference in March, Mapping Adoption: Histories, Geographies, Literatures, Politics, looks fantastic. I can't find the list of speakers I read somewhere earlier this week, but it is swoon-worthy. Early registration ends on February 28.

Do you have something you'd like to point us to? Leave it in the comments!

February 05, 2012


Beth called the other day to tell us that she's started to search for her first mom. (Beth was adopted from foster care when she was one year old.) She was born in one of the handful of states which recognize adoptees' right to their original birth certificates, so she has long known her birth mom's name. But she said that lately she's been thinking about what Mari has because Beth is still part of her life, and thinking about what she can't give to Mari because of all she doesn't know about her (their) family of origin.

Closed adoption is never just about the present. The decision ripples through generations.

I am hopeful for what this might mean for her, for Mari. Nervous, too. This feels weighty. Her first mom would be in her early 60s now.

I've noticed that Beth has started referring to her as her "birth mom" lately, which is also what she calls herself when she's talking about Mari. Before now she would talk about her "bio mom," as if drawing a line between that adoption and this one, between what happened to her first mom and what happened to her.

February 01, 2012

New OAB Blogs - January 2012

The open adoption blogs list grows every month and sometimes additions get lost among all the awesomeness. Hopefully these monthly round-ups of the new blogs from the month will help folks connect.

Here are the blogs added in January:

My Angels From God: The adoption journey of a birth mother in an open adoption who became an adoptive mother in a semi-closed adoption and then a biological mother.

I'm Still A Good Mother; A Birth Mother's Journey Through Open Adoption: Stories of my experiences as a mother in recovery, parenting more children after having older children adopted through foster care, and my amazing relationship with my daughter's adoptive family. Also, the benefits of what we like to call "post-adoption reunification."

Olive You Forever: I am a mother of a teenage daughter who chose to bless another family with her daughter she named Olive through open adoption. I guess that makes me a Birth Grandma and I am proud to say so!

A Journey of Love: Learning to live in an open adoption relationship while navigating life!

My Angels From God: The adoption journey of a birth mother in an open adoption who became an adoptive mother in a semi-closed adoption and then a biological mother.

Mommy Musings: Reflections on all aspects of parenting -- the fun, the frustration, the funny and everything in between, including our adoption journey parenting two children who joined our family through domestic infant adoption.

A Thing Called Hope: Our journey towards open adoption, struggles with infertility and loss, but most of all our hope that our dreams will come true.

Journey to Extend our Family: The chronicle of a young Canadian couple navigating their adoption journey.

An Infertile Blog: Started as an infertility blog but since we stopped trying a few months ago and have started the adoption process, that's mostly what I'll be writing about now.

January 30, 2012

Open Adoption Roundtable #34

This roundtable prompt comes from a first mom in an open adoption who no longer blogs but wanted to hear what others had to say on the topic.

She was thinking about her reasons for placing her daughter and how she handles sharing (or not) that information with the people in her life. She realized that her daughter's adoptive parents were often asked that same question by people (i.e. why she chose to place) and she wondered how they answered. This started her thinking about how others handle that choice of what to share and whom to share it with, especially when they are asked to speak on behalf of another party in their open adoptions.

It is likely that we've all had that experience at some time: someone asking us to speak to the choices or feelings of others in our adoption constellation. Perhaps it is someone asking a first parent how their child feels about being in an open adoption. Or someone asking an adoptee why their adoptive parents chose to adopt. You get the idea.

How do you handle such questions when they are asked of you? How would you want the other parties in your open adoption to handle those questions when they are about you?

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points--please feel free to adapt or expand on them. 

Write a response at your blog--linking back here so your readers can browse other participating blogs--and share your post in the comments here. Using a previously published post is fine; I'd appreciate it if you'd add a link back to the roundtable. If you don't blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.


The responses (so far):

Jenna (first mom) @ The Chronicles of Munchkin Land

Racilous (first mom) @ Adoption in the City

Archane (adoptive mom) @  The Spinning Goth

I Am (first dad) in comments

Geochick (adoptive mom) @ An Engineer Becomes a Mom

Robyn C (adoptive mom) @ The Chittister Children

Other Mother (first mom) @ Dear Sweetheart (auto-play music)

Dena (adoptive mom) @ Red Velvet Wisdom

Meg McK (adoptive mom) @ God Will Fill This Nest

Cindy (first mom) in comments

Cat (adoptive mom) @ Cat's Litterbox

Lynn (adoptive mom) @ Open Hearts Open Minds

Alissabeth (adoptive mom) @ Not a Visitor

Susiebook (first mom) @ Endure for a Night

I Was Anne (adoptive mom) @ Tears of/and Joy

CB (adult adoptee) in comments

Danielle (first mom) @ Another Version of Mother

Venessa (adoptive mom) @ A Journey of Love

Kareydk (adoptive mom) @ Karen's Adoption Journey

Meghann (adoptive mom) @ Everyday Miracles

Mrs R (adoptive mom) @ The R House

Jenna (adoptive mom) @ sparklejenna

January 19, 2012

Roundtable Suggestions

I have a new open adoption roundtable set up for next week. This next prompt was suggested by a first mom blogger (she's since shuttered her blog, else I'd link to her) and I'd love to have more community-suggested prompts. I'm sure you have some better ideas than mine!

What topics would you like to write about? Read about? You can peek at the list of prior topics for a look at what we've done in the past.

January 17, 2012

Adoption Book Tour: "Found" by Jennifer Lauck

Today I am participating in an adoption book tour of Found by Jennifer Lauck, organized by Lori at The Open Adoption Examiner. Found is a companion to Ms Lauck's earlier memoirs (the acclaimed BlackbirdStill Waters, and Show Me the Way), re-telling some of the same events then continuing on through her reunion with her first mother and, more broadly, her search for wholeness, peace, and identity. It's a raw and powerful story about her memory of loss (loss piled on loss, in this case: losing her family of origin due to closed adoption, losing her adoptive family to death, losing trust and safety when she is betrayed and abused by those who are supposed to take care of her) and the many ways (Tibetian Buddhism, motherhood, reunion) she found restoration.

As part of the tour, I was sent a few questions to answer. To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at The Open Adoption Examiner.

January 10, 2012

Best of Open Adoption Blogs 2011

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Best of Open Adoption Blogs 2011

The Best of Open Adoption Blogs list celebrates the best of online writing about openness in adoption from 2011, as selected by the blogging community. Bloggers could contribute posts they wrote as well as posts written by others. Submissions will be added to the list through January 31, so if your favorite isn't listed, be sure to add it.

The submissions are listed in the order in which they were received--no "best of the best" or rankings here.

Section I: Recognizing Our Own Writing

A modest proposal. I mean, question. by Lia of Lia - Not Juno

Christmas and Adoption by of Mandy W. of FourAgainstTwo

Family is Family by Socialwrkr24/7 of Socialwrkr24/7: Eyes Opened Wider

(my) love bites by Alissa of Not A Visitor

My Sister Lives in Texas by Dana of Life Unexpected

The Fun Side of Waiting by David of Seeking Fatherhood

What I Get to Do by Robyn C of The Chittister Family

I'm Just as Scared of You as You are of Me by Racilous of Adoption in the City

Processing Adoption: Conversation with my son (part 2) by Lori Lavender Luz of Write Mind Open Heart

Not What I Expected-Everything I Ever Wanted by Julie Corby of The Eyes of My Eyes are Opened

Dear Adoptive Parent... by Cynthia Christensen of Wife, Mother, Birth Mother, Author, Homeschooler

It's Not Easy Being Green by Monika of Monika's Musings

Open Adoption Roundtable #30: The First Time by Sheeps Eating Me of Sheeps Eating Me

Bile by Barb Sobel of Sideshow Barb

Are You an Attuned Adoptive Parent? by Rebecca Hawkes of Love Is Not a Pie

Did I Get the Call? by Cindy Rasmussen of Recipe for a Family

What Kind of Mother Gives Up Her Kids by Jenna Hatfield of The Chronicles of Munchkin Land

A Plea for Adoptive Parents by Lindsay Smith of On Loan From Heaven

Open Adoption Roundtable: Write About a First Meeting by Amber of Bumber's Bumblings

Why We're Adopting by Lindsay of Fortunes Full

Adoption Doesn't End by Heather Schade of Production, Not Reproduction

How I (Almost) Shied Away From Openness (And Not Why You Think) by Luna of Life from Here: Musings from the Edge

Birth Mothers by Amber of Life in the Last Frontier

RAD, Trauma, and Attachment by Carol Lozier of In My Child's World

The Things I Didn't Know by Danielle of Another Version of Mother

My Plan A by Whitney of On a Journey to Adopt

Birthmother, J by Tiffany of Finding K: A journal of love through infertility, cancer, and open adoption

Thoughts on Open Adoption by Camille of Embracing the Odyssey

Section II: Recognizing Great Writing by Others

Up the Duff by Susie Book of Endure for a Night
Writes Lia, "This post was insane. I've always loved Susiebook's blog and stumbled onto it when we were roughly the same amount pregnant - me with my first son, who I eventually placed, and her with her second son, who she parented after placing her first 18 months prior. I love her insights into parenting in a complicated situation--missing Cricket, loving Joey, and dealing with a less-than-ideal open adoption relationship. 'Up The Duff' was the announcement of Susie's third pregnancy (second child to be parented) and was just so goddamn INTERESTING. It's like a really well-written TV show, where the main characters know what the 'correct' thing to do is and yet somehow still manage not to do it because it's HARD. (And it IS so very very hard.) Seeing how Susie dealt with disclosing her pregnancy to her family and then to Cricket's adoptive moms was fucking fascinating and relatable, and I spilled my coffee the first time I read this post."

Goodbyes by Jenna Hatfield of The Chronicles of Munchkin Land
Writes Mandy W., "I know this was a hard moment for Jenna, but it shows how amazing an open adoption relationship can be. It can be very difficult, but it is so worthwhile for all involved.  I find her to be an inspiration in how hard she works to have a relationship with her first child."

Positive Stuff about Jacket's Mom by Rebecca of Fosterhood NYC
Writes Socialwrkr24/7, "I cheated a bit as this isn't so much a post about Open Adoption--it's kind of the reverse actually. Rebecca was a foster parent to 'Jacket' for 18 months and then she returned home to her mother. Jacket's mom has some pretty serious and difficult limitations--and their relationship was NOT ideal when Jacket was in Rebecca's care. But out of Rebecca's desperation to stay involved in Jacket's life, an amazing (albeit sometimes insane) relationship has formed. Despite much self-doubt and continuous redefining of the boundaries, Rebecca's 'whatever it takes' attitude is something to be admired. Whenever I read her blog, I can't help but wonder and wish that more adoptive parents could open themselves up to what could be possible if they decided to do whatever it takes to keep their child's first parents in their lives. Its not an easy road Rebecca has chosen--but I know she will never regret it."

Oh, the Legality of it All by Thanksgivingmom of I Should Really be Working
Writes Alissa, "I love TG's willingness to call out fear in adoptive parents and the various ways we can be tempted to deal with those fears that are unfair to first parents (and by extension our children). This post is about the double standard in terms of who has legal rights to participation in a child's life and who really matters."

Unpleasant Truths by I Am of Statistically Impossible
Writes Dana, "I Am is the only birth father blog that I have come across and he writes real, raw and from the heart material.  I think his perspective is crucial in trying to gain a full picture of open adoption.  I think this post has great meaning and I love the question, 'Why do you want to parent?'"

The Potty Jar by Bobby of Those Two Daddies
Writes David, "Really fun, down to earth post that made me laugh and laugh."

The Future of the Adoption Tax Credit by Dawn Davenport of Creating a Family
Writes Robyn C, "It's not sexy or emotional, but the Adoption Tax Credit is not well understood. I like this post because it's informative and useful."

No One Said I *Had* To Search/Reunite by Mei-Ling of Exile of Xingnan
Nominated by AmFam

Love Is Not a Pie by Rebecca Hawkes of Love Is Not a Pie
Writes Racilous, "First, I love reading what Rebecca has to say.  I think she her posts are always well thought out, respectful of all in the world of adoption, but they also challenge me to think how I approach adoption.  I can honestly say that although I read many blogs of both adoptive parents and adoptees, it's not that common that I find one that I'm always excited to read, yet this blog represents both those parts of the triad and I can't wait when I see a new one in my reader.

When I was looking for a post I found more than one of Rebecca's that I truly enjoyed, but this one in particular I think is an amazing explanation of how openness can work for our kids.  I honestly cannot believe it was her first blog post, but what a way to kick off a blog and show your voice to the world."

Why I Do This, Part 3 by Heather Schade of Production, Not Reproduction
Writes Lori Lavender Luz, "Heather explains why she stays up late at night building an open adoption community. 'I don't think any one of us has all the answers. I think precious few among us deserves any "adoption expert" label (I'm certainly not one of them). But all of us put together? We can be a life-changing resource for each other.' I have learned so much from the people in this sector of the blogosphere, and I'm grateful to Heather for getting us together once in awhile around her table."

Love Universal by Rebekah of Give All to Love
Writes Julie Corby, "I always hate when people say, 'All you need is love' in regards to adoption. This post talks about love and adoption in a way that I really responded to."

It Is What You Make Of It by Kelsey Stewart of A Birth Mother Voice
Writes Cynthia Christensen, "I grow consistently frustrated with the anti-adoption, haters world that is predominantly made up of people 'stuck' in their own negative thought patterns. And Kelsey is raw and honest all the time about this."

Adoption Guilt by Harriet Fancott of See Theo Run
Writes Monika, "I just plain loved this post. I love Harriet's writing anyway, and this one was so emotional and thought-provoking (if you read the post and see my comment on it, you can actually see how thought-provoking it was for me.  Also, I wrote a post on my own blog inspired by this post and my comment)!"

Open Adoption Roundtable #31 by Rebecca Hawkes of Love Is Not a Pie
Writes Sheeps Eating Me, "Rebecca tackles the question of fear in open adoption by talking about the myth of the hateful birthmother monster--and she includes those who have lost their children to foster care. This is a story that is hardly ever told, but she addresses it clearly from the perspective of adoptive parents' fear in open adoption. This was something I badly needed to read at the time she wrote it, and it's haunted me since."

A Kid-Shaped Hole by Sheeps Eating Me
Writes Barb Sobel, "She understands and has always made an effort to be in contact with the birthparents for the sake of her kids.  Because SHE WANTS TO.  Because it's important to her. I've read this blogger for 6 years now, through various blogs and I'm so proud of her."

Long rambling post that fell out of my fingers by Tiruba Tuba of Tubaville
Writes Rebecca Hawkes, "I chose this post because it shows that adoptions can be open even when the conditions for openness are less than ideal. I also love the way the author describes her own transformation over the years. And I was touched by the simple beauty (and truth) of the the sentence 'There can never be too many people who love a child.'"

It shouldn't be this way... by Becky Fawcett of An Infertile Blonde
Writes Cindy Rasmussen, "I agree with her wholeheartedly and I am inspired that she is taking action to help other families. Bravo!"

The Only Choice by Danielle of Another Version of Mother
Writes Jenna Hatfield, "Not only is it well-written, but the more we understand about that pre-placement process that birth parents go through... the better."

Open Adoption and the Man Who Makes Mine Bearable by Lisa Anne of Living Through Today
Writes Lindsay Smith, "Lisa's perspective on open adoption has opened my eyes to the ugly side of adoptive parents not upholding their end of their agreement and promises to a birth mom... Lisa is a birth mom and I think this post sheds some light on a birth mom's heart."

Embracing Duality in Adoptive Families by Rebecca Hawkes of Love Is Not a Pie
Writes Amber, "I thought it was a beautiful example of selflessness in adoptive mother. So many times you hear how selfless the First Mom is, but you don't hear that often about Adoptive Parents. I found it inspiring and encouraging for my involvement in open adoption"

Being a Birthmom is Bittersweet by Coley of Living the Bittersweet Life
Writes Maureen Horan Benes, "This post is simple and straight to the heart of the matter. I think about it once in a while, and I can't say that for many blog posts, because I read so many!"

The Bedroom as a Metaphor for the Neglected Inner Sanctuary by Kristen of Rage Against the Minivan
Writes Lindsay, "Because I WISH my side of the bedroom was as clean as hers in the picture..."'

This Is Not An Adoption Blog, and I Am Not an Adoption Specialist by Martha Crawford of What a Shrink Thinks
Writes Heather, "A powerful post about being open, particularly as non-adopted persons, to all that we do not know. Starting from the author's personal experience, it builds to conclusions like these: 'Birth mothers, first mothers, natural mothers, adoptees, adopted persons, adult adoptees, adoptive parents, forever families, adopters – every word becomes an injury, a wounding – language itself becomes impossible and insufficient to describe all of the light and darkness, joys and sorrows, connections and disconnections, contradictions, ambivalence and dissonance. I’ve learned to think of all of the voices in the adoption community, as dissonant as they are, as part of some whole, that I can never grasp.'"

7 Points About the Birth Mom Conversations by Lori Lavender Luz of Write Mind Open Heart
Writes Luna, "Lori's moving series about discussions with her son as he processes his adoption is a rare gem. As always--but particularly with such a sensitive subject--Lori conveys her experience and sage wisdom with insight and compassion. While everyone touched by adoption could benefit from this series, I think it is a must-read for adoptive parents. (I actually love part two best, but that one is already on the list!)"

Courage by Brittany of Que and Brittany's Adoption Journal
Writes Amber, "I love how Brittany writes about the transformation of her heart from aching to be a Mother, to actually being a mother.  I also love that having Brie with her at church made that day mean so much more to her.  This is what open adoption is about!"

Must Read News Article by Rumor Queen of China Adopt Talk
Writes Carol, "I chose this article because it talks about how important it is for many children to find their birth family.  And it gives helpful information for children from China where identifying information is scarce."

Open Adoption Roundtable #31 by Barb Sobel of Sideshow Barb
Writes Danielle, "She presented this idea that was in my head, that I had yet to form into words for one reason or another--the idea that some of my wounds (adoption wise) would always be there. And that I have to figure out there is a good chance that I will never have peace for some of the things that happened. It was a powerful moment for me, brought on by a powerful, yet simple post."

Sometimes by Kayli of Becoming Kayli
Nominated by Whitney

Why I am anti anti-open adoption: a public response to private statements by Lori of Write Mind Open Heart
Writes KatjaMichelle,"When the Best Open Adoption Blogs of 2011 list was announced I couldn't decide on how I'd ever narrow it down to just one.  As I was thinking of all the great posts I'd read over the year this post (actually the first of a two parter so I'm kind of cheating but regardless read it then click through) kept returning to my mind.  It took me a bit to re-find the post, but I'm glad I did.  Go read Lori's words.  No seriously go. read. Lori's words."

Talking more about open adoption by Wendy of Our story: A blog about open adoption
Writes Tiffany, "Because I recall wanting to learn more about the open adoption relationship and how it can work."

What Not to Say to a Birthmother by Red of One More Day
Writes Camille, "This was one of the first blogs I stumbled across when I started looking for resources to better understand a birth mother's point of view. I'd thought a lot about the stupid things people said to me as an adoptive mom, and this post helped me realize that birth moms have to deal with similar ignorance on a daily basis. I appreciate her honesty, compassion, and genuinely good advice. :) "
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